Chesapeake Utilities Beats Q4 Earnings Ests

Zacks

Chesapeake Utilities Corporation (CPK) reported fourth-quarter 2013 operating earnings of $1.00 per share, 3.1% above the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 97 cents. However, earnings fell nearly 2.0% from the year-ago figure.

Yearly earnings of $3.39 per share were up 13.4% from $2.99 reported in 2012 due to due to positive synergies from acquisitions and extended services to residential as well as commercial & industrial customers. However, it failed to meet the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $3.43.

Total Revenue

Chesapeake Utilities reported total revenue of $122.9 million at the end of the fourth quarter, a beat of 19.3% from the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $103.0 million. Also, revenues were 12.2% higher than the year-ago figure. The year-over-year rise was primarily due to a better performance at its Regulated Energy segment.

Revenues for 2013 stood at $444.3 million, up 13.2% from $392.5 million reported in 2012.

Operational Highlights

For the quarter under review, total operating expenses were $104.6 million, up nearly 15.0% from $91.0 million incurred in the year-ago period.

Operating income was $18.3 million, down slightly from $18.5 million in the year-ago quarter due to higher cost related to sales and operations.

Interest expenses increased a marginal 1.4% to $2.1 million in the fourth quarter 2013, primarily due to a rise in debt levels.

Financial Highlights

Cash and cash equivalents as of Dec 31, 2013, were $3.356 million versus $3.361 million as of Dec 31, 2012.

Net property, plant & equipment at the end of Dec 31, 2013, were worth $631.2 million as against $541.8 million as of Dec 31, 2012.

Long-term debt (excluding current portion) was $117.6 million as of Dec 31, 2013, compared with $101.9 million as of Dec 31, 2012.

Segmental Update

Regulated Energy: This segment recorded an operating income of $50.1 million in 2013, registering an increase of $3.1 million from 2012. The positive performance can be attributed to expansion of natural gas services and acquisition of Eastern Shore Gas Company and its affiliates.

Unregulated Energy: Operating income earned from unregulated entity in 2013 stood at $12.4 million, a 47.9% increase from the year-ago period. The upswing came on the back of reduction in average cost of propane inventory and an increase in propane supply in Delmarva Peninsula.

Other: This segment consisting primarily of Chesapeake’s subsidiary, BravePoint, reported an operating income of $0.30 million in 2013, compared with $1.3 million in 2012. Income declined due to higher payroll and related costs.

Other Company Releases

AGL Resources Inc. (GAS) announced fourth-quarter earnings per share of 68 cents, failing to meet the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 91 cents.

Questar Corporation (STR) reported adjusted earnings per share of 39 cents for the fourth quarter, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 2 cents.

Sempra Energy’s (SRE) adjusted fourth-quarter 2013 earnings per share came in at $1.13, above the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 98 cents by 15.3%.

Chesapeake Utilities currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

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